Dining out during a pandemic: Restaurant changes made for customers and patrons

Dining out during a pandemic
Posted at 11:38 PM, May 26, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — With restaurants starting to reopen across the state, many people may wonder what dining out will look like with all the new regulations. News5 went to Edelweiss Restaurant, which has been open since Sunday, to learn more about what changes customers can expect.

Christina Lyons is a manager at Edelweiss, who has worked there since 2002. She said Edelweiss did receive PPP money to continue supporting their employees during the past few months. They also opened up a drive-thru window to serve their customers from a safe distance. On Sunday, the restaurant was finally able to open up to in-person dining. "Glad to have them back, you know, I missed my customers," Lyons said.

Lyons said they had to institute a lot of changes before allowing patrons back inside their establishment. All employees must wear a mask and get their temperature checked before starting their shift. The tables are spaced six feet apart, and only 50 people are allowed inside at any given time.

Their menus are disposable, and the tables are not set before guests arrive. Edelweiss also assigns a staff member to clean for the shift, meaning that one person is responsible for all of the sanitation. Also, they have a timer that goes off every 30 minutes, signaling to employees that it is time to wash their hands.

"Of course, we're thankful for the business we have, but it's not comparable to what we used to have. We have about 50 employees, close to 50 employees, you know, and they're all waiting for a paycheck too," Lyons said.

Reservations are required, and Edelweiss is already booking out into the week. They said they can take walk-in reservations, but would have to make a party wait outside of their establishment before seating them.

One of the waitresses working at Edelweiss, Jennifer Hidek, said adapting to the changes has been interesting, but she's happy to get back to work. "I just want to make sure I'm doing everything to keep myself safe and customers safe," Hidek said.

Centura Health also provided some suggestions for customers to keep themselves safe when going to a restaurant. Those include washing your hands before you eat, bring hand sanitizer or cleaning wipes with you, cover your mouth and nose, and of course, stay home if you feel sick.